Un-Ionized Ammonia

Published: August 23, 2018 | Last updated: July 5, 2023

What Does Un-Ionized Ammonia Mean?

Un-ionized ammonia a neutral, toxic form of nitrogen in an un-ionized state. Ammonia is an environmental concern, especially because of its danger to human or aquatic life. Maintaining good water quality is required in any trenchless construction operation, and this includes testing for ammonia.

The chemical formula for un-ionized ammonia is NH3, and it is commonly referred to as ammonia.

Trenchlesspedia Explains Un-Ionized Ammonia

The un-ionized nitrogen compound ammonia (NH3) is distinguished from its ionized counterpart ammonium (NH4+). Ammonia is toxic and predominates when the pH level is high and water is warmer. Ammonium is less toxic and predominates when pH is low. Un-ionized ammonia is found in trace amounts in nature, but it is commonly manufactured for industrial use.

The two forms of ammonia combined (NH3 plus NH4+) make up what is called total ammonia nitrogen (TAN). While water testing normally measures total ammonia, it is the un-ionized form that is the most toxic. Ammonia used in domestic or industrial settings can get into human water supply or aquatic environments through the sewer system. Trenchless construction operators must be diligent to work with authorities to measure and ensure safe levels of ammonia.

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